Just 30 members strong, the Solon Rotary continues to make a difference in lives around the world.
The local rotary was awarded a humanitarian grant of $66,500 from the Rotary Foundation for a project that would improve the hygiene and sanitation for two schools in Uganda, both of which have toilets that do not work among other related issues. The Rotary is partnering with Drink Local Drink Tap in Cleveland which has a division that is focused on Uganda.
This is not the first international project of the Solon Rotary nor the first international grant, Solon resident and Rotary board member Bud Thomas explained.
The club’s first humanitarian efforts involved a water project in El Salvador. There, a village of 200 families would spend typically five to six hours a day getting water, walking nearly 3 miles to get to the river.
“It was a pretty arduous process,” he said. Thanks to the work of the Rotary, the villagers now walk about the length of a football field to get clean water.
Mr. Thomas visited El Salvador along with his son, Christopher, and former Rotary president Glen Gable and his son, Warren. Seeing the country and the needs of the people firsthand was “truly amazing,” Mr. Thomas said.
“The trips to El Salvador were incredibly powerful,” Mr. Thomas said. “We see how fortunate we are in the U.S.” He said the experience for his son, 16, was “eye opening.
“He learned a lot about humility and how other people live and he came back a different person,” Mr. Thomas explained.
Mr. Thomas also plans to travel to Uganda during the construction phase.
“This is a hygiene project and it will not bring water, but latrines,” Mr. Thomas said. “It’s not quite as glamours, but really needed.”
The objective of the project, which will cost about $67,000, is to provide improved latrines, and female wash facilities. The project also includes training to students and staff members to be hygiene and sanitation leaders both in their schools and community. The project targets a student population of 2,800 and a staff of about 60.
The Rotary provided $16,000 toward this project in the form of matching funds with the majority of the participation being from the Rotary club in Mbale, Uganda. They will assist with the construction of the project.
Mr. Thomas said he will travel there closer to the completion date to “see our money is well spent and be good stewards of it.”
The project is set to begin in early July with completion by year’s end.
In addition to these types of humanitarian projects, the Solon Rotary supports several local efforts in Solon, including Safety Town, providing the new seats for the Solon Center for the Art’s theater, a monthly food pantry and more.
Mr. Thomas said the group is always looking for new members.
The Rotary is a “combination of people who are civic minded and have a desire to lead,” Mr. Thomas said.
The club’s motto is “Service Above Self,” he said.
“The idea is to provide for the community locally or internationally, and the other motto we use is, if you have an idea and want to own it, we support it,” Mr. Thomas said.